Why do we have Daylight Saving Time?
As National Geographic explains, in 1902, British builder William Willett hit on the idea of moving the clocks forward in April and back in September while out horseback riding. He proposed it to England’s Parliament as a way to prevent the nation from wasting daylight. His idea was championed by Winston Churchill and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle—but was initially rejected by the British government. Willett kept arguing for the concept up until his death in 1915.
In 1916, two years into World War I, the German government started brainstorming ways to save energy. “They remembered Willett’s idea of moving the clock forward and thus having more daylight during working hours,” explains David Prerau, author of “Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time.”
Soon, England and almost every other country that fought in World War I followed suit. So did the United States: On March 9, 1918, Congress enacted its first daylight saving law—in addition to establishing Daylight Saving Time, the Standard Time Act defined time zones in the U.S.
In those days, people used coal for power, so they really did save energy (and thus contribute to the war effort) by changing their clocks, the National Geographic post says.